Off duty police from the Minneapolis police department, walked off the security detail of the WNBA’s Minneapolis Lynx on July 9, and former University of Connecticut basketball star Maya Moore is one of the reasons. And it does not appear the controversy will end anytime soon.
The walkout by four police officers was a result of a news conference held by the Lynx players, denouncing racial profiling in the wake of recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas. The last straw came when players wore Black Lives Matter warm-up jerseys.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the union representing Minneapolis police, praised the officers for walking off the detail and for removing themselves from future Lynx game assignments. Other officers may follow suit. Lt. Kroll is quoted in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “If (the players) are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”
The Lynx are three-time WNBA champions, led by former UConn standout Moore, the league’s 2014 MVP. “We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling,” Moore is quoted as saying at the news conference. The players did criticize the shooting of the Dallas police officers.
Lt. Kroll, however, claimed the players are believing the “false narratives” being reported about some incidents. “Rushing to judgement before the facts are in is unwarranted and reckless,” he told the paper.
The t-shirts worn by the Minnesota players seemed more controversial than warm-up jersey worn by the New York Liberty, also before their July 9 game. Their jerseys were the color black with the hashtags “Black Lives Matter” and “Dallas 5” on the front. The Minnesota shirts read: “Change starts with us, justice and accountability” and on the back had Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s names along with “Black Lives Matter” and a Dallas Police Department emblem.
Moore’s ex-UConn teammate, Swin Cash of the New York Liberty, criticized those attempting to make the movement “violent.” She is quoted in the Washington Post: “Five cops gave their lives up trying to protect a peaceful movement. And in this country, I do believe that you can assemble peacefully and protest against injustice. So until the system transforms, we cannot sit here and act like there is not a problem here in America.”
It appears, however, unless the Minnesota players back off their public comments, the protest by the Minneapolis police department to not work off duty security will grow, giving the flagging WNBA a marketing problem it does not need.